Tony Buzan is a true master of memory. As the co-founder of the World Memory Championships, he was born in Palmers Green, Enfield, Middlesex and for a Canadian like myself, it was exciting to learn that he went to school in Vancouver, even if only for a brief while.
Buzan actively promotes memory skills along with mind mapping in a wide range of books and software programs and has helped a lot of people. Even Michael Jackson once sought him out in order to gain deeper insights into his creativity and mental abilities.
His most famous books are:
Buzan is also the co-author of numerous books which are said to have been translated into more than 25 languages.
In addition to memory, speed reading and mind mapping, Buzan talks about spiritual intelligence, creativity and GQ (genius quotient).
Buzan’s approach to the mind map is characterized by several guidelines:
1. The mind mapper should use at least three different colors and start in the center of the map with an image of the word or subject rather than the word itself.
2. Symbols and codes should form the material of the mind mind with words being used only sparingly (though words are in some sense nothing more than symbols and codes that have become what Carl Jung called “imago,” or images hyper-charged with meaning).
3. Words that do appear in the mind map should be keywords only.
5. The lines on the map should start out very thick when they project out from the center and become thinner and thinner.
6. Lines are said to be especially effective when they are only as long as the words they underline, but lines can also be broken to effectively thread a number of keywords together.
7. Colors are good for more than just stimulating your mind as you look at the map. They can also help group ideas together or codify them.
8. Each mind mapper should work to develop an individual style using these guidelines.
9. Highlighting, underlining and bold colors should be used to emphasize more important ideas.
10. Mind maps should be as clear as possible, which suggests that a very good mind map will always be a second version of an initial draft.
Whether or not mind maps have the impact that Buzan claims has been called into question, but arguing against the value of such intensive creativity seems counterproductive. Mind maps clearly engage both the mind and the hands and focus attention on the generation of knowledge rather than just memorization and recitation.
In addition to these matters of the mind, Raymond Keene lists many of Buzan’s other activities in The Official Biography of Tony Buzan: The Man Who Introduced the World to Mind Maps. It is a very good read and it is worth noting that Raymond Keene is a master of many mind activities himself, including being a senior Chess Grandmaster and correspondent for many newspapers. He has apparently written over 100 books and has won many awards. He is also the co-founder of the World Memory Championships with Tony Buzan.
One thing that I’ve always wondered about is if Tony Buzan’s mind mapping software can be used in conjunction with a Memory Palace or even as a Memory Palace. I’ve done some experiments, but so far my success has been limited. I think this is due to the fact that, although Memory Palace work can produce rhizomatic effects that look like a kind of 3-d mind map, they do have some strictly linear properties in terms of construction and Recall Rehearsal. Still, I see great advancements on the horizon as I continue to work on bringing the two together to fashion even more powerful memory techniques and deeply appreciate having Tony Buzan’s work on hand as I explore.
About the author:
Anthony Metivier is the founder of the Magnetic Memory Method, a systematic, 21st Century approach to memorizing foreign language vocabulary, dreams, names, music, poetry and much more in ways that are easy, elegant, effective and fun.